The Art of Small Things


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ISBN: 9780674026933
Author: John Mack
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There is a true fascination with all things miniature and with the skills involved in creating a miniature work of art. Speaking of such works, anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss remarked that all miniatures seem to have an intrinsic aesthetic quality. And who could fail to be beguiled by an exquisite Elizabethan miniature painting, an intricately carved Japanese netsuke, the words of the Lord's Prayer engraved on a minute jewelled clasp, or the gemlike perfection of an eighteenth-century Italian micro-mosaic? This richly illustrated book celebrates the art of the miniature, but also looks beyond it at the many aspects of small worlds--in particular, their capacity to evoke responses that far exceed their physical dimensions. Author John Mack explores the talismanic, religious, or magical properties with which miniatures are often imbued. Considering a wide range of objects--from Mughal miniature paintings, ancient Egyptian amulets, Ashanti gold weights, and Aztec jade figures to Hindu temple carts, English prints and drawings, classical Greek jewelry, maps, mosaics, models, and magical gems--he examines the use of the miniature form in various cultural contexts. He also assesses the importance of scale and questions the definition of miniature. How large or small can a miniature be? Is a map a miniaturization of a larger world? What is the point of an object that is almost too small to be seen by the human eye? From Gulliver to King Kong, classical art to surrealism, Aristotle to the Yoruba, The Art of Small Things shows us, in fine detail, the exquisite and the esoteric, the wondrous and the weird.

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